Novels are a wonderful way to get a deeper sense of a time period, and there are some excellent novels for kids and young adults set during the Civil War. Here are some of our favorites:
- Pink and Say, by Patricia Polacco, is a very touching book, and very sad. Bring out the Kleenex and read it aloud to 4th grade and up.
- Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt, is set in Illinois, where the protagonist is left at age 9 to be “the man of the house” when his father and brothers go off to fight.
- Charley Skedaddle, by Patricia Beatty, is out of print but you may have it in your library. It’s about a 13 year old boy from New York who runs off to war.A Guide for Using Charley Skedaddle in the Classroom from TCR includes lots of interesting activities on the Civil War.
- Rifles for Watie is about a 16 year old from Kansas, but is set in Arkansas and Oklahoma and has a lot of very specific time and place references to actual events.
- Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy has a different perspective, being the story of a young woman who passed as a man and became a spy. TCR’s Civil War Thematic Unit uses this and Charley Skedaddle as its literature selections.
Classroom activity books we love:
- The Civil War for Kids: A History with 21 Activities has lots of interesting hands-on activities.
- Civil War (Primary Sources Teaching Kit, Grades 4-8) has basic info, timeline entries, and primary documents.
- History Pockets: The American Civil War is one of Evan-Moor’s pocket books with reproducibles for building a fancy book while learning. These are great for open house.
- Easy Simulations: Civil War is a five-day simulation set up as a game. We do a lot of simulations for Civil War lessons, but this book lets you use this approach whether you’re an expert on the subject or not.
- Mr. Lincoln’s High-tech War is my new favorite book about the Civil War. I don’t think people realize the extent to which the Civil War was all about new technology. Our students, whose lives are often all about new technology, will get real insight into this aspect of the Civil War with this book.
If you’re interesting in reading books that were popular during the Civil War, kids were reading Alice in Wonderland and The Water-Babies (a Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby).
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